Title: So This Is Ever After
Author: F.T. Lukens
Released: March 29, 2022 (Hardcover)
Trigger Warnings: None listed.
Description: Arek hadn’t thought much about what would happen after he completed the prophecy that said he was destined to save the Kingdom of Ere from its evil ruler. So now that he’s finally managed to (somewhat clumsily) behead the evil king (turns out magical swords yanked from bogs don’t come pre-sharpened), he and his rag-tag group of quest companions are at a bit of a loss for what to do next.
As a temporary safeguard, Arek’s best friend and mage, Matt, convinces him to assume the throne until the true heir can be rescued from her tower. Except that she’s dead. Now Arek is stuck as king, a role that comes with a magical catch: choose a spouse by your eighteenth birthday, or wither away into nothing.
With his eighteenth birthday only three months away, and only Matt in on the secret, Arek embarks on a desperate bid to find a spouse to save his life — starting with his quest companions. But his attempts at wooing his friends go painfully and hilariously wrong… until he discovers that love might have been in front of him all along.
Please keep in mind this review contains spoilers for the entire book. Read with caution. If you click on the “Read More”, it is under the assumption you either don’t care about spoilers or you’ve already read the book!
On the surface, this book is a strange one. There’s a lot of modern slang and even modern ideas about life and love and how to handle the new from the old but, oddly, it works for me. Upon first impression, though, the modern talk is jarring along with cursing. And then there’s the random talk about boners. I realize we’re in the mind of a teenage boy so that’s to be expected but upon first impression, it’s very strange, and even with the modern speech, it’s still out of place.
But if you continue to give it a chance, it’s a lot more fun than I expected it to be. And honestly, I was worried it was going to be nothing but boner talk all the time. Again, even if this is the mind of a teenage boy, it was still weirdly surprising and jarring so forewarning for that.
When it comes to the ending of a quest, especially a prophecy, the ever after is often forgotten: the rebuild after the fall of the evil-doer. And I liked this – it gave me an insight into more than just lopping off the head of the evil king; repairing relationships with other kingdoms, servants, and even the villagers can take a lot of the work but this feels more or less the backdrop of the main event. The romance and the conflict of Arek trying to find his soul mate before he disappears. If this novel was meant to be a slow-burn novel about the infrastructure of rebuilding a kingdom, that by itself could be interesting but we have to have a reason to be here, right?
And that’s the main thing: this is a romance book first and foremost. I like that this book at least takes a gander at the party members and his relationship with them (beyond trying to woo them). One thing that is constant is the fact that the trope here is miscommunication and it does get annoying. Arek talks about being rejected by Matt and Matt acts offended at every turn. It continues to get annoying (though there are some good moments tucked in there) until the dramatic end, but that’s all there really is to it. A simple paint-by-numbers friends-to-lovers plot with miscommunication at its core because they’re both idiots. If you’re not a fan of those tropes, you’re basically not going to have a good time.
Though, I do have something to talk about: Sionna. I loved her and I love she was there but something I picked up while reading this. While the author did their best to include as much diversity as they could (a nonbinary love interest, even), Sionna was basically the darkest person there and while I enjoyed her character, it did feel weird she was the only dark woman there. I realize that she comes from “far away”, but I would have liked to have “seen” other darker characters of interest – especially as romantic interests.
It’s not my place to say how Sionna was handled, so all I can say is I just wish there were other darker characters to visit with and get to know.
Overall, though, I did enjoy this book. The characters are teenagers and though some are a bit more stubborn or dramatic than others, it’s a fun read. This is definitely the sort of book that you’d need to be in the mood for because the modern language can throw you out of context here and there. It’s a strange blend, but it’s a comforting blend that works for me.